Venus Williams spent time during tennis’ shutdown to fine-tune her serve and floor it in a monster truck.
Now, the 40-year-old Venus is revved up for her rematch with sister Serena Williams.
The Williams sisters will square off for the 31st time with a spot in the Lexington quarterfinals on the line.
It’s Venus’ second straight match against a former world No. 1 Grand Slam champion. She opened the Top Seed Open defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday.
“Honestly it’s just really difficult to come back after all these months and play well,” Venus said. “You feel like most of the time in practice you’re hitting the ball well and then the match comes and it’s just not the same. So I think for both of us to just walk out there and hopefully play well and I think we both did.
“From one Grand Slam former No. 1 to another it’s been quite the draw for me. Quite honestly, it’s perfect because I haven’t played forever so I want to play the best players. And I think I got my wish playing Serena, so here we go.”
The four-time Olympic gold-medal champion showed a streamlined service in her comeback win. Venus served 70 percent and denied the lone break point she faced against one of the game’s top returners in Azarenka.
Venus said the Coronavirus-induced sabbatical from sport gave her time to “tweak” her motion.
“Tennis is a marathon,” Venus said. “You basically play 10-and-a-half months a a year. You get six weeks off to spend the time you choose but those six weeks are pretty much spent on the court. So there is no time to really re-think what you want to do or make chances because there’s just not enough time. I used this forced offseason to just re-evaluate what I really want out of my game. You’ve got time to make a few tweaks here and there and that’s what I did. I’m quite happy with it. Obviously the more matches, I think the better I’ll get.”
The former world No. 1 stayed super busy during the sport’s shutdown.
Venus was occupied running her sportswear design brand, EleVen, conducting free fitness classes on her Instagram page, hitting the practice court and driving monster trucks and serving as a human foosball player in her CBS reality TV Show Game On with NFL standout Rob Gronkowski.
“I’d have to say just meeting Rob Gronkowski… all of our guests that was a lot of fun,” Venus said. “You’re in a monster truck and I’d never driven one been in one before. Honestly, I just hit that gas as hard as I could and went flying. I was so scared…
“Honestly, I did it because the experience just getting out of your comfort zone. I love to play tennis. I’ve never been one to go just seek the camera or seek fame. I just seek a win.
“So that was kind of a little bit different in actually saying yes I want to be in front of the camera. I want to do this. Definitely getting out of my comfort zone and I have no regrets. I twas a great show people loved it.”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve